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Bush's former terrorism adviser denounces him

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  • Fred Feldman
    Another signal that Bush is losing the mandate of Heaven Fred Bush s Ex-Terror Adviser Blasts President By TED BRIDIS, AP WASHINGTON (March 20) - Richard A.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 21, 2004
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      Another signal that Bush is losing "the mandate of Heaven"
      Fred

      Bush's Ex-Terror Adviser Blasts President
      By TED BRIDIS, AP

      WASHINGTON (March 20) - Richard A. Clarke, the former White House
      counterterrorism coordinator, accuses the Bush administration of failing
      to recognize the al-Qaida threat before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror
      attacks and then manipulating America into war with Iraq with dangerous
      consequences.

      He accuses Bush of doing "a terrible job on the war against terrorism."

      Clarke, who is expected to testify Tuesday before a federal panel
      reviewing the attacks, writes in a new book going on sale Monday that
      Bush and his Cabinet were preoccupied during the early months of his
      presidency with some of the same Cold War issues that had faced his
      father's administration.

      "It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left
      office eight years earlier," Clarke told CBS for an interview Sunday on
      its "60 Minutes" program.

      CBS' corporate parent, Viacom Inc., owns Simon & Schuster, publisher for
      Clarke's book, "Against All Enemies."

      Clarke acknowledges that, "there's a lot of blame to go around, and I
      probably deserve some blame, too." He said he wrote to National Security
      Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Jan. 24, 2001, asking "urgently" for a
      Cabinet-level meeting "to deal with the impending al-Qaida attack."
      Months later, in April, Clarke met with deputy cabinet secretaries, and
      the conversation turned to Iraq.

      "I'm sure I'll be criticized for lots of things, and I'm sure they'll
      launch their dogs on me," Clarke said. "But frankly I find it outrageous
      that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's
      done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored
      terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something."

      The Associated Press first reported in June 2002 that Bush's national
      security leadership met formally nearly 100 times in the months prior to
      the Sept. 11 attacks yet terrorism was the topic during only two of
      those sessions.

      The last of those two meetings occurred Sept. 4 as the security council
      put finishing touches on a proposed national security policy review for
      the president. That review was finished Sept. 10 and was awaiting Bush's
      approval when the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

      Almost immediately after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Clarke said the
      president asked him directly to find whether Iraq was involved in the
      suicide hijackings.

      "Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in
      absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a
      report that said, 'Iraq did this,"' said Clarke, who told the president
      that U.S. intelligence agencies had never found a connection between
      Iraq and al-Qaida.

      "He came back at me and said, 'Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a
      connection,' and in a very intimidating way," Clarke said.

      CBS said it asked Stephen Hadley, Rice's deputy on the national security
      council, about the incident, and Hadley said: "We cannot find evidence
      that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the president ever
      occurred."

      CBS responded to Hadley that it found two people it did not identify who
      recounted the incident independently, and one of them witnessed the
      conversation.

      "I stand on what I said," Hadley told CBS, "but the point I think we're
      missing in this is, of course the president wanted to know if there was
      any evidence linking Iraq to 9-11."

      Clarke also harshly criticizes Bush over his decision to invade Iraq,
      saying it helped brew a new wave of anti-American sentiment among
      supporters of Osama bin Laden.

      "Bin Laden had been saying for years, 'America wants to invade an Arab
      country and occupy it, an oil-rich Arab country.' This is part of his
      propaganda," Clarke said. "So what did we do after 9/11? We invade ...
      and occupy an oil-rich Arab country, which was doing nothing to threaten
      us."

      Clarke retired early in 2003 after 30 years in government service. He
      was among the longest-serving White House staffers, transferred in from
      the State Department in 1992 to deal with threats from terrorism and
      narcotics.

      Clarke previously led the government's secretive Counterterrorism and
      Security Group, made up of senior officials from the FBI, CIA, Justice
      Department and armed services, who met several times each week to
      discuss foreign threats.



      03/20/04 18:36 EST

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